Mike Matthews sent a letter to parents and staff admitting to a 1 million dollar budgeting “mistake”. For two and a half years District administrators have said repeatedly that NO general fund dollars were used to fund the iPad program in MBUSD. They have said that in Board meetings. They have said that in community meetings. They have said that to the media. They have said that in writing. They have said that to us at the negotiating table.
We knew, based on budgetary analysis that this was not true.
We said that at Board meetings. We said that to any community members that were open enough to listen. We said that to the media. We said that at the negotiating table. Most importantly, we said this to the administration before and after we repeatedly requested all budgetary documents related to iPad expenditures.
These requests, the earliest of which goes back to August 2012, were met with silence. We received no documents and were met with every excuse imaginable on why that documentation couldn’t be provided. We took their failure to provide information on the iPad program and other budgetary issues to PERB and our charges were substantiated in the form of a formally issued PERB complaint. However, the District continued to withhold requested information and began a public “spin” campaign claiming that PERB’s recognition of wrongdoing wasn’t that at all.
As the date for the final PERB hearing loomed, we suddenly received some of the requested documentation. We still have not reviewed the material to ascertain that it fully meets our requests. However, the District knew we were now in possession of enough “proof” of budgetary chicanery that they had to act.
Clearly, the District knew that this documentation provided the “smoking gun” that supported our contention that general fund money was used to pay for the iPad program to the detriment of increasing teacher salaries (our salaries are paid out of the general fund). In the newest “damage control” effort, the Superintendent attempted, once again, to spin public deceit and a lack of budgetary transparency as a simple accounting error.
This was no “mistake” by the District. This was business as usual. They took the money for the iPad program out of the general fund just as we said. In doing so, it was either in collusion with the Board of Education (in which case the Board is equally culpable) or the administration willfully deceived the Board (in which case the Board will need to decide the appropriate response).
The District did not voluntarily come forward with this mea culpa. They were forced to reveal the truth since their budgetary cover-up was unraveling in the face of our persistence and an upcoming final judgment by PERB, the results of which would expose their duplicity.
The letter by the Superintendent was simply a calculated yet pathetic attempt to control a situation of his making that is quickly becoming uncontrollable.
The Board of Education has the authority to authorize expenditures. However, the budgetary manipulations used by those in authority appears to have been for the purpose of denying fair compensation to teachers for salary and benefits by misrepresenting the true budgetary picture to the public and to our own members.
With the upcoming mediation, PERB hearing and our continuing review of provided documents, we can only assume that these budgetary maneuverings represent only the tip of the iceberg.
The MBUTA Executive Board